Birth of a theorem

Cedric Villani

Why I looked at this book

The process of proving a new mathematical theorem is not straightforward since there's no guarantee you'll come up with the new ideas needed. In this book it seems that Villani is trying to give an idea of what research level mathematics is about to a readership with limited mathematical knowledge. It will be interesting to see how well he succeeds.

First impressions

It's a strange sort of book. Clearly readers are not meant to follow the mathematical jargon, rather you're supposed to get an impression of the way mathematicians work. The book is easier to follow when it introduces some of the people involved, both current mathematicians and sections on the work of famous names from the past. These sections are a bit short though - for instance it's hard to look at Boltzmann's theorem without thinking of the philosophical issues of time reversibility which aren't mentioned here.
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